More proof that my home state of Ohio is quickly becoming the new Florida, my governor, Bob Taft, has recently been charged with ethic violations for not reporting golf outings that were paid for by other people. Oh and the number of golf outings is 30 since he took office in 1999. Now that may seem like a lot of time spent playing gold on other people’s dime, but it’s not like he took a five week vacation to do so. But anyways. In all, Taft accepted 52 gifts totaling $6000. I’m sure Tom DeLay is laughing somewhere and thinking to himself, “If you’re going to accept gifts, go big. And once you accept them, you need to somehow make them seem like campaign contributions.” Taft ended up being charged with four misdemeanors.
These charges have brought out the attack dogs like Columbus mayor, Michael Colman said, “At this critical time for Ohio, we cannot afford one more day in which the governor is preoccupied with these scandals at the expense of a focus on creating jobs, reforming education, and moving Ohio forward," Coleman said. "For this reason, I join the bipartisan chorus that concludes it is in the best interest of the citizens of Ohio that Gov. Taft resign and allow us to begin to move forward from this sad time.”
But Taft is not without his supporters Brian Hicks Taft’s former chief of staff said, “I think he's doing a good job taking responsibility, saying it was his mistake. He publicly apologized in court and afterward, and I think people are going to accept that.” Did I forget to mention that Hicks himself was found guilty of ethics violations about a month ago and was fined $1000. And Hicks isn’t the only employee under Taft who has suffered the same fate (from the Akron Beakon Journal):
- February 2004: Luther Heckman, chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission, resigns following a report that accused commission members of accepting food, drinks, travel and other improper gifts from racetracks they are charged with overseeing. The report found that more than $8,000 in meals and gifts were given by racetracks to the commission's former executive director, staff members and four of five commissioners.
- September 2003: Richard Frenette, director of the Ohio State Fair, resigns over allegations that he inappropriately accepted gifts from vendors doing business with the fair. In one example, Frenette made $6,020 by selling sports tickets he'd acquired personally - such as Ohio State season tickets - to a Columbus company that buys and resells tickets to sporting and entertainment events.
- August 2002: Taft fires Gino Zomparelli, the three-year executive director of the Ohio Turnpike Commission, after an investigation that concluded he and his staff accepted gifts from contractors so often it became part of the agency's culture.
- July 2002: Randy Fischer, director of the Ohio School Facilities Commission, resigns after questions arose about the way the commission awarded contracts. A judge ruled that Fischer had no authority to approve contracts and that state law required the three-person school facilities commission vote on each contract. Fischer also had acknowledged he accepted free rounds of golf from construction company executives in 1999 and 2001.
Great company you keep Bob.
But alas, this story has a boring outcome. Unlike the strung out cases against Bill Clinton, Bob Kerrey, or the one currently going on against Tom DeLay, the case ended quite quickly. Taft pleaded no contest and was promptly found guilty on all four misdemeanors was ordered to pay $4,000 in fines and $76 in court costs and to apologize to Ohio citizens and of course he avoided any jail time even though he was facing two year (six months for each count). Taft’s mandated apology goes as followed:
“As Governor, I expect all state employees to adhere to the letter and spirit of Ohio's ethics laws. I sincerely regret and apologize for my mistakes. I have learned valuable lessons over the past three months during my cooperation with the Ohio Ethics Commission, and it is my hope and expectation that others in public service will benefit from my experience.”
For a man who pleaded no contest, he sure sounded guilty in his apology e-mail. That's right, he apology was sent electronically to various news outlets across Ohio, not given in person. What a stand up guy. I’m actually glad that I never voted for Taft (whom I lovingly refer to as Bush Light). In fact he was the very first Republican I ever voted against. Taft’s policies, along with Bush’s, have completely ruined this state’s schools. I would gladly join any movement to get Taft impeached, or pull a California, and have a recall election. Hey, maybe we can get a movie star governor too. I wonder what Arnold & Jesse’s Predator co-star, Carl Weathers, or as I like to call him, Apollo Creed, is doing?